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There’s never been a better time to switch to natural shampoo. Sodium lauryl sulfate, a foaming agent found in traditional shampoos that strips your hair of moisture, can double your conditioner budget. While there isn’t a formal definition of what constitutes a "natural” shampoo. Some true-blue granola types cleanse with nothing but apple cider vinegar and baking soda; others are happier with a product that looks and smells more like a traditional shampoo. At a bare minimum, natural shampoo is more about what it doesn’t contain—most contain no sulfates, and many are paraben- or BPA-free, which is important for products you use every day. Their herbal replacements are surprisingly effective, and once your hair has adjusted, that means more moisture, more shine, and more softness day after day. Below, the top natural shampoos on the market.
Best Overall: Rahua Hydration Shampoo
Rahua’s palo santo scent and pretty packaging have made it an Instagram staple, but it’s what’s inside that’s really beautiful. The company uses rainforest-grown ingredients harvested in the Amazon, purchased at a fair-trade price, which has earned them a steady supply of rare ingredients like the morete oil found in this shampoo, which is rich in vitamins A, C, and E, and beta-carotene which protects hair from damaging UVA rays.
Best Budget: Acure Curiously Clarifying Lemongrass & Argan Shampoo
The gentle clarifying power of this incredible drugstore find is complemented by the addition of argan oil, an incredibly potent natural moisturizer for hair. The lemongrass scent is fresh and clean-feeling, but not overpowering, and there are several other scents to try. In addition to being paraben- and sulfate-free, it’s also fully vegan and cruelty free, and contains no dyes, aluminum, formaldehyde, or nonylphenol ethoxylate.
Best for Dandruff: John Masters Organics Spearmint & Meadowsweet Shampoo
One of the best-known natural beauty brands, John Masters Organics uses a blend of natural ingredients like spearmint and aloe vera to stimulate and calm the scalp, helping to increase blood flow and heal flaky skin. As a 2-in-1 product, it’s highly moisturizing, so many are able to use it as their sole hair product. However, it’s important to know your hair history and hair type, and if your hair is prone to dryness or breakage, follow with a conditioner.
Best Clarifying: EVOLVh Ultra Shine Moisture Shampoo
EVOLVh is committed to a natural product right down to the bottle—their fully recyclable non-plastic packaging arrives in recyclable packing materials, and their gentle formulas are highly concentrated, meaning there’s less waste, less water used in their product, and bottles last longer. But what’s inside is actually even better.
Natural shampoos can admittedly feel heavier on the hair, and EVOLVh’s vitamin C, amino acids, and antioxidants fully cleanse hair of both product buildup and environmental pollutants, giving your strands a fresh start every time. It works well as a complement to any other natural shampoo as well—this one will stay in your shower a long time if you use it for a weekly deep clean and condition, though it’s gentle enough for daily use, too.
Best For Curly Hair: Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino Shampoo
Briogeo designs their line to solve specific hair problems, so curly-haired girls have several choices depending on their hair texture. If your hair shifts between straight and wavy and you just need some help controlling frizz, Briogeo’s Rosarco line can be an equally good fit, but for truly dry and frizzy curls, the Rice Amino & Avocado treatments are where it’s at. Once the rice aminos have penetrated the hair shaft to block out frizz-causing humidity, tomatoes, shea butter, and avocado oil all heap moisture onto your strands, giving them shape and softness. This shampoo works particularly well when paired with the conditioner from the same line, which leaves a little more shea butter on your hair for long-lasting softness.
Best For Straight Hair: 100% Pure Kelp & Mint
Girls with straight or fine hair are sometimes wary of natural shampoos—it can be a tough transition from traditional formulas because the lack of suds allows more product to cling to your strands, making them look heavy and dull or greasy. 100% Pure Kelp and Mint Volumizing Shampoo removes all that dirt, excess oil, and other impurities from flat, limp hair to improve body and fullness thanks to the magic of kelp (yep, seaweed) and mint extracts that wake up your hair and scalp and restore bounce and shine without creating frizz.
Best Organic: Dr. Alkaitis Organic Herbal Shampoo
A natural shampoo that actually lathers? Yep, this miracle product actually exists, and it’s a recipe for incredible hair. The highly-concentrated herbal formula uses aloe vera, coconut oil, and their signature hair and scalp herbal complex (an apothecary-eque blend of horsetail, oat buds, coltsfoot, wild chamomile, boxwood, nettle, comfrey, and other legacy ingredients blended with vitamin E) to promote shine and strength in your hair, and to help naturally detangle without conditioner.
All of the ingredients are certified organically grown and in many cases ethically wildcrafted or naturally harvested for minimal enviromental impact, and of course, it’s vegan and not tested on animals. And yes, there really is a Dr. Alkaitis—the line was founded by Trish Alkaitis, to market the products that were originally developed by her father, a chemist, for her mother, after she asked if the chemicals in her beauty products were safe to use.
Best For Color Treated Hair: Hairstory New Wash
Hairstory was developed by and for professional hairdressers on the theory that haircare professionals and their clients would prefer to be able to shop online, letting customers save money by buying direct and subscribing, and letting hairdressers make a commission on their sales every time a customer restocks. But to make the model work, the product has to be worth buying over and over again—and Hairstory delivers.
Their all-in-one non-detergent formula skips the sulfates, silicones, and parabens, and uses essential oils and moisture-saturated cleansers to wash, condition, and detangle. Because it’s designed for salon use, it’s totally safe for color and heat styling, and lets you reduce your number of weekly washes, which is really the key to preserving color. For added environmental friendliness, their subscription service delivers a refillable bottle and a large refill pouch rather than multiple plastic bottles of product.
Our writers spent 15 hours researching the most popular natural shampoos on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 30 different shampoos overall, screened options from 25 different brands and manufacturers, read over 50 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 4 of the shampoos themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.